Sunday, September 30, 2007

Division Champs

The Phillies are going to the playoffs! Going into today, the last day of the season, the Phils and Mets were tied for first in the NL East. The Phils just beat the Nationals 6-1 while the Mets were blown away by the Marlins. And there's even a Japanese connection! Tokyo-born Tadahito Iguchi made it 4-1 in the 6th inning with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly.

I still remember watching every pitch of the 1993 playoffs, the last time the Phillies reached the World Series... I still remember Mike Schmidt's retirement speech...

But now I don't even have a TV in my apartment. Am I doomed to play out the World Series scene in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, staring at my computer screen?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Japanese Cellphone Novels

Wow. The Wall Street Journal this morning has a story about Japanese cellphone novelists, here, along with some excerpts from novels. (If you don't have a WSJ subscription and want to read it, I can email you the article, which will give you access. Let me know.)

The WSJ summarizes three plots and gives excerpts from each:

"What the Angel Gave Me" by Chaco

Summary: Mai Hinata, a 10th-grade high school girl, meets Kagu -- a boy "with a face as beautiful as a girl's" -- through a friend, and gradually falls in love with him. He loves her, too, but misunderstandings get in the way, and they end up dating other people for a while. Mai, unable to bear it any longer, eventually gathers the courage to confess her love to him. She asks Kagu to come see her, but he dies in a motorcycle accident on his way there. Mai finds out five and a half years later that Kagu had broken up with his girlfriend the morning he died and had planned to confess his love for her, too.

"Clearness -- An Eternally Pure Love Story" by Towa

Summary: Sakura is a 20-year-old college student who has sex for money to fund her shopping addiction. After her customers leave her apartment, she spends her time spying on Reo, a young, beautiful and (dyed) blond-haired boy, who works at a male escort service across the street. One day, Reo pays her a visit, and so starts an unlikely friendship. But Reo has a troubled past. He is the son of a prostitute who worked for his current pimp and died before she could repay money that she owed. He himself entered the business when he graduated from junior high school. Though Reo refuses to make love to Sakura (he has a policy of not having sex outside of work), the two fall in love and become inseparable until Reo gets into a fight with Sakura's boyfriend and gets him into a car accident. Reo turns himself in, and Sakura moves to Okinawa to wait for him at their dream destination.

"Love Sky -- A Heartbreaking Love Story" by Mika

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Mika meets Hiro, a tall, intimidating boy with dyed brown hair and countless ear piercings, through a friend. The two start dating, but suffer greatly. First, Mika is gang-raped by some boys sent by Hiro's ex-girlfriend. Then, Mika gets pregnant with Hiro's baby and loses it, to their great sadness. Though Hiro stands by Mika through it all, he starts acting strangely and abruptly breaks up with her. Two and a half years later, she finds out that he is dying from cancer and had broken up with her to protect her from the pain of his death. She rushes to the hospital and spends his last days at his side. After his death, she discovers she's pregnant again, but loses the baby.

(I must be getting old -- I can't imagine reading these, much less on a cellphone. But it's true that my typical fare would make for bad cellphone reading. I do remember seeing a Kurosawa movie in which a young doctor leaves his fiancee because he's contracted syphilis during a medical operation in WWII. She never finds out why he left. I watched it in a movie theater.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Class Assignment

Sensei asked our opinion about what makes a good blog. "Your comments will serve as a guideline for you at the end of the semester when your own blogs and those of your classmates’ will be evaluated."

A good blog for me would be well-written and interesting -- good style and good content. But these are such subjective qualities that I don't think they should serve as criteria for evaluation.

I find sensei's question difficult, in part because I don't keep my own blog or read other people's personal blogs (so far). None of my close friends keeps a blog. The blogs I read are professional or impersonal, like the Wall Street Journal's blogs on various topics or Arts & Letters Daily, which is a collection of links to articles that a few academics find interesting. (AL Daily has inspired certain posts, where I just link to things I've enjoyed reading or seeing.) But the qualities of these blogs seem relatively inapplicable to our personal blogs for Japanese class.

I think the criteria for evaluation should reflect the purpose and guidelines of the blog. Such as (pasting from the Class Blog Page):

"You can write about anything (well, as long as it's legal), for example, activities you do after class, what you would like to do in Japanese, and even suggestions/complaints about our Japanese class."
"Expressing your thoughts, feelings, opinions etc. to others (me, classmates, Japanese students in other schools, Japanese-speaking people) in Japanese and/or other languages of your choice)."
"Remember, you are encouraged to express yourself about any topics in any language."

So, I'd say that a good blog, for evaluation purposes, is one that tries in good faith to meet these criteria.

Reading Notes: The Somers Mutiny

(No Japanese connection.)

In 1842 a Navy captain suspected mutiny on his ship. He executed three sailors without trial, including the son of the Secretary of War. The ensuing public debate concerned (1) whether there was actually a mutiny conspiracy and not just a few jokes about one, and (2) if so, whether it was necessary to execute the men immediately, rather than imprisoning them until the ship reached shore and then instituting a court-martial, as the law required.

A contemporary newspaper editorial: "It would seem...that a panic or mania prevailed...concocting mutiny out of Greek letters and nothing. It is probably the greatest farce, ending in an awful tragedy, that ever was enacted since the creation."

A few random notes:

Captain Mackensie wrote in his report that Spencer, alleged chief mutineer, "was in the habit of amusing the crew by making music with his jaw, he had the faculty of throwing his jaw out of joint, and by the contact of the bones playing with accuracy and elegance a variety of airs." With "elegance"?

Note to self: "I have learned by experience and observation, that nine-tenths of all the scrapes men get into are occasioned by writing or saying too much." Philip Hone, diary, 12/29/1842.

It's refreshing to see that some of our expressions are not recent Hollywood inventions: "I told him that if I saw him making any further signs I would blow his brains out." 12/30/1842 testimony.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Introductions, Lies, and True Denials

Now that we must write self-introductions for class, I think of my self-introduction below (first post):

"I am not a doctor. I am not 25. I am not Korean. Nice to meet you."

This is silly, but I think denials of this sort are interesting. They can evoke counterfactual worlds, as where I am a 25-year-old Korean doctor. More interestingly, they involve selection: out of the innumerable things I'm not, why choose "doctor," "25," and "Korean"? So these denials require an active intelligence (I don't say an "intelligent intelligence"), which can set them apart from simple reporting.

So Wallace Stevens in "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock":

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Comments on Class

Sensei asked us to comment on class in a blog post.
1. I think sensei runs class efficiently. There's no dead-air time.
2. Speaking with a partner or in small groups works better in this class than in a previous language class, perhaps because of (a) class size; (b) sensei's vigilance; and (c) the fact that we're given short, discrete tasks and the class quickly regroups.
3. Compared to previous classes, there seems to be less writing and reading so far. I'm used to learning grammar, in particular, by filling in blanks and the like ad nauseum. But that's probably not the best way to learn anyway.
4. I might have appreciated a quick overview of the structure of Japanese and its main differences from English before jumping into particulars. Things like syntax, use of verbs, tenses, pronouns, adjectives, declensions, etc. Maybe I just didn't do that homework assignment and will have to eat crow.
5. I knew no Japanese coming in, and the pace seems pretty quick to me. But the pace for grading purposes seems more indulgent.

I got an A in his Freud class

Three recent articles on Freud by a former professor:

1. On Freud and his daughter: "Freud's authority with Anna was absolute; he had established it early in her life, in part by psychoanalyzing her himself. Looking back on the psychoanalysis, Anna said that her father never permitted her to indulge in halfway measures. He compelled her to offer the whole truth about everything, including her erotic life. It seems that she shared with him accounts of her sexual fantasies and of her initial forays into masturbation, and that Freud took it all in with characteristic equanimity. Anna emerged from the analysis grateful to her father and more committed to him than ever."

2. On Freud's late-life take on religion: "Judaism’s distinction as a faith, he says, comes from its commitment to belief in an invisible God, and from this commitment, many consequential things follow. Freud argues that taking God into the mind enriches the individual immeasurably. The ability to believe in an internal, invisible God vastly improves people’s capacity for abstraction. “The prohibition against making an image of God — the compulsion to worship a God whom one cannot see,” he says, meant that in Judaism “a sensory perception was given second place to what may be called an abstract idea — a triumph of intellectuality over sensuality.”

"If people can worship what is not there, they can also reflect on what is not there, or on what is presented to them in symbolic and not immediate terms. So the mental labor of monotheism prepared the Jews — as it would eventually prepare others in the West — to achieve distinction in law, in mathematics, in science and in literary art. It gave them an advantage in all activities that involved making an abstract model of experience, in words or numbers or lines, and working with the abstraction to achieve control over nature or to bring humane order to life. Freud calls this internalizing process an “advance in intellectuality,” and he credits it directly to religion."

3. On Freud as anti-authoritarian authoritarian: "Freud still manifests himself to us as a grand patriarch. Collectively we have thought about him as the father, as the one who is supposed to know. We have hoped he’d confer the truth — make us whole and happy. Of course, he cannot. But he has been different from all the other aspiring masters in that he has taught nothing so insistently as the need to dissolve our illusions about masters, and to be responsive to more moderate, subtle and humane sources of authority."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Drafting of the Securities Act of 1933

In April 1933, Felix Frankfurter assembled a group of three securities experts. "The team set to work on a Friday. By late Saturday they had a draft that, more than 60 years later, still constitutes the main body of the Securities Act. The Act is a masterpiece, an intellectual tour de force. It is fun to work with once you know how. For now, realize that when one works with the Securities Act, one plays a complex mental game devised by three exceptional minds, over a weekend, more than half a century ago. (Part of the probably apocryphal lore of securities law is that the Act was drafted not only over a weekend, but over a case of Scotch.)"
Soderquist & Gabaldon, Securities Law, 2004, 13.

Tenuous Japanese connection: Here's a presentation on the "Delawarization of Japanese Corporate Law" entitled "In the Shadow of Delaware? The Rise of Hostile Takeovers in Japan."

はい! Delaware からきました。

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Splitting the Baby

From my reading today, here are letters between spouses in the prelude to one of the most notorious child custody battles of mid-19th c. America.

Ellen to Gonzalve: Happiness I shall never know again; and all my earthly prospects, which a few years since seemed so fair, are darkened, never to be bright again! You alone can restore me to tranquility, by ceasing to pursue my child. My only care is watching over it -- my life is its happiness.

Gonzalve to Ellen: I do not wish my wife, if she does not return with the feelings of a wife for her husband; but I take this last occasion to make you reflect upon the immense responsibility that you are taking, not only with regard to myself and your child; but before God, and what you call society, in voluntarily deserting your husband, and concealing a child from its father.

Ellen to Gonzalve: The arrow has passed through my heart, and I am so unfortunate as to have no longer, there, a feeling towards you which would induce me, according to my conscience, either before God or the world, to live with you again as your wife.

Gonzalve to Ellen: There is a duty reposing on me as a father, as a Swiss, as a member of society, that leaves me no alternative. He is the natural inheritor of my estate, he is destined therefore to enjoy a position in his country, that he can find no where else, and only if he is brought up there: I am surprised that you wish to deprive him of it.

At trial, mom won custody of the boy. The case heralded a shift from legal paternalism (e.g., in the eyes of the law then, "The husband and wife are one person; that person is the husband") to maternalism -- the presumption that children are best off with their birth mothers.
(Michael Grossberg, A Judgment for Solomon: The D'Hauteville Case and Legal Experience in Antebellum America, 1996.)

Tenuous Japanese connection here: "The image of fathers is gradually changing in Japan as younger men eschew their own dads' hands-off approach in favor of closer involvement..."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Patti Smith and Four Dance Scenes

1."Gloria" live. The pinnacle of Western music?

2. "Thriller" performed by Filipino prisoners!
3. An infectious scene in Godard's Band of Outsiders.

4. A wistful dance in Fellini's Amarcord.
5. And Napoleon Dynamite.
And I don't even like dancing.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Apologies to classmates, but this blog might be useful as an online scrapbook for my future reference, if no one else's.

In that vein, some anarchistic evening entertainment from Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung, a Belgian band that I saw in France:
1. "Two Fast Dreams"

2. "Pedanterie"

3. "Hot Shades"

4. "Rabbit Eye Movement"

Maybe It's the Best Thing for You

Cue the band:

...and congratulations to Julia!

Hmm, what's a Japanese connection? Julia will be closer to the average age for Japanese women to marry (27.3) than to the average age for American women (25), according to this list. Of course, Julia looks like she's closer to the average American age.

To UVA Students

I see that our sensei has linked to the blog project of a UVA Japanese class. If any UVA students have too much time on their hands and have made it here, I suggest:
--history classes with Megill, Kett, and Zunz
--English classes with Edmundson, Jost, and Tucker
--movies at Newcomb Hall
--more movies at the library
--the used-bookstore on Elliewood Ave., and another downtown
--enjoy the campus
--don't live in Hereford, but in Brown or off-campus after 1st or 2nd year
--don't become alcoholics
--don't worry about your GPA, but try to finish over 3.4
--check out your professors' salaries, which are public information and published somewhere online!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Japanese Women Sweat at Home, Japanese Men at Work

according to these stories:

"Japanese Wives Sweat as Markets Reel," NY Times.

"Japan's War on Air Conditioning," Wall Street Journal (subscription req'd -- it's a good deal for students).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


hajime mashite
watashi wa
isha ja arimasen.
25 sai ja arimasen.
kankoku-jin ja arimasen.

dozo yoroshiku.



1. Many years ago my mom suggested that I learn Japanese, when it appeared that everyone would soon be speaking it. The idea was soon forgotten. To her credit, she has not recommended Chinese in recent years.

2. In 9th grade I had a choice, in my history class, of spending a quarter on Japan or China. I chose Japan. I didn't learn anything and have regretted my choice. I had a dream several years ago that would have made a great movie, set during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

3. I never read Hiroshima mon amour, although my French professor assigned it. (But I saw the movie.) Twice I failed to get past the first chapter of William Gibson's Neuromancer, which I believe is set in Tokyo. I did like Blade Runner, with its Tokyo-inspired setting. (Speaking of which.) I liked the documentary Sans Soleil and also prefer cats. I did not enjoy Lost in Translation. I've seen very few Japanese films. Favorites include Nobody Knows, Throne of Blood, and Dead or Alive (Hanzaisha). I've learned that calling someone "hime" is not the quickest way to her heart.